Interview With Harmony On Mars / New Single “Don’t Stand Still”
Psychedelic punk duo Harmony on Mars have just released a new single “Don’t Stand Still” which was featured on a new episode of TV series “American Gods”. It’s a great new gritty rock track, perfect for the background of a bar fight like it was used for in the show, or equally as well for cruising down the highway or as a workout background if you’re less of the bar fighting type. The song suits the times perfectly and serves as a reminder to stand tall and choose love over hate during these times when forces of evil seek to divide us. I love the energy of the track, to me it sounds somewhere between The Doors, Lou Reed and QOTSA. Somehow it manages to sound retro and fresh at the same time. I may not be able to put my finger on what exactly it reminds me of, but I can tell you it’s a kick ass rock n roll song and I’ll definitely be adding it. to my playlist.
Harmony on Mars consists of brothers Maxwell & Jackson White. Growing up in Toronto, their debut as a duo was in July 2018 headlining the legendary Horseshoe Tavern alongside Mute Choir. HOM have since performed across Southern Ontario, Quebec and in Northern Canada sharing stages with Mattiel, DADDY LONG LEGS, Anunnaki (members of Wolf Parade/Moths & Locusts), Sloan keyboardist Gregory Macdonald’s Cola Wars, DijahSB, High Tatras and Future Punx, among others. They have performed at festivals Folk on the Rocks, Canadian Music Week, The Rise BMX’s Brose Farm Jam and Wolfe Island Records’ Garden Party. Harmony on Mars have been described as a “charismatic pair that produces a big sound on stage” and “the new Tegan and Sara of psychedelic post-punk”, drawing comparisons to The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Dead Meadow, The Stooges and The Velvet Underground.
We had the chance to interview Harmony On Mars about the new track, their influences, writing for film & television, what they’ve got coming up next and more. Click below to listen to “Don’t Stand Still” and keep scrolling for our interview with Harmony On Mars!
Interview with Harmony on Mars
You’ve recently released a new track “Don’t Stand Still”, can you tell us about the songs lyrics?
HOM: The song can mean whatever you want it to mean. The song is looking for a better world for everyone to live in. The intention is to give off the vibe of perseverance to stay positive and be open to other’s point of views and choose love over hate.
You’re a duo of brothers, when did the two of you start making music together? What was the idea behind starting Harmony on Mars?
HOM: We’ve played guitars since we we’re really young (5 and 7) and have always played and explored music together. We started off listening to the Beatles, Stones, classic punk and all the bands and artists they were influenced by and ended up influencing. There are so many artists and bands that we love, it’s too hard to list them all. Artists like Beck, Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and bands like The Stooges, The Doors, Ramones, The Clash, The Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, Wire, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa inspired us to start writing our own songs. As far as being a duo, it was easier to do it like that at the time.
Your debut as a duo was in July 2018 headlining the legendary Horseshoe Tavern alongside Mute Choir. That’s quite the first gig, how did you land it and how was the experience?
HOM: We were lucky. We emailed Craig the promoter with some demos and he gave us the slot on one of those Indie88 New Music nights featuring local bands. I guess we impressed him enough for him to get us some other gigs there.
You’ve performed across Southern Ontario, Quebec and in Northern Canada. Can you tell us about one of your favourite memories of playing live?
HOM: Every gig is its own memory. Any time you get to stand up in front of an audience of people is another opportunity to understand why you spend all the time and energy trying to get your music out there. To answer your question though, every time we’ve had the chance to play a gig we’ve been honoured to play with the bands we’ve shared the stage with. We are looking forward to more opportunities to play live as soon as COVID is over.
What are some of your favourite festivals that you’ve played?
HOM: Canadian Music Week 2019 was an amazing opportunity for us. We played 3 gigs that week, which gave us a chance to hone our live set and get into a groove. A lot of friends showed up to our gigs with Mattiel, Sophia Radisch and DijahSB, which was awesome. Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife gave us a positive experience as well. We met so many cool people and heard some great music.
You two are also session musicians for film & television, can you tell us a bit about that part of your world?
HOM: We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have played on some film scores and TV series. Our father was scoring a Norwegian film some years ago and of course half the movie was set in a bar so they needed a lot of background music that was to be played in the bars. The music budget ran out so our dad asked us to jam out some tunes. The director liked them so much she used them in the film. After that experience, we started doing more of it (American Gods, Frontier, V-Wars, Trigger Point) and have also scored some of our friends’ short films.
How different is writing a song for film as opposed to writing a song for the stage?
HOM: It’s no different. You write a song and if it works out that the director or showrunner likes it enough then it’s put in. They always have a bunch of songs to choose from so you can’t second guess yourself, you just need to write a good song.
Ontario’s covid numbers are slowing going down, and things are starting to open back up. Toronto itself is still a while away from that, but what do you think the Toronto music scene is going to look once things open back up?
HOM: People will be itching to see live music again. Once the venues are sorted out we think there’s going to be a resurgence of original unique music that was pent up by artists during this shitty time.
How are some of your favourite local bands?
We love the vibe and energy from these local bands, some of which we’ve had the chance to play shows with. Vypers, Hot Garbage, Kali Horse, Joncro, Howlin Circus, Possum.
Who/what are some of the biggest influences on Harmony On Mars?
HOM: Well there’s the obvious ones the crowd likes to yell out when they come to see us play, The Black Keys and The White Stripes. But in no specific order, these are some of the bands and filmmakers whose work has struck a chord with us. Hendrix, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, L.A. Witch, Death Valley Girls, The 13th Floor Elevators, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, The Clash, Night Beats, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sparklehorse, Shannon & The Clams, Alison Mosshart, The Kills, The Dead Weather, Blondie, Surfbort, Amyl and the Sniffers, Mattiel, The Coathangers, Patti Smith, Television, New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbrakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Mothers of Invention, The Who, The Kinks, David Bowie, Twink, The Pretty Things, Annunaki, Moths & Locusts, Cola Wars, Wolf Parade, Sam Cooke, Mdou Moctar, Bombino, Tinariwen, The Sheepdogs, Cage The Elephant, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Black Lips, Nirvana, Germs, Them Crooked Vultures, Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Cream, J.J. Cale Neil Young, Bobby Dylan, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Guillermo del Toro (we were PAs on one of his upcoming movies, “Nightmare Alley”). Like we said, too many to list because there are many more, there’s a snapshot of some influences. I’m sure we forgot many.
What are your most listened to songs so far in 2021?
HOM: During this recent lockdown, we’ve been listening to all sorts of stuff. Here’s a list of some songs we have listened to recently.
Lou Reed – “Hangin’ Round” + “Vicious”
Paul Jacobs – “Half Rich Loner”
L.A. Witch – “I Wanna Lose”
Patti Smith – Horses and Easter Albums
Junior Kimbrough – “All Night Long” (various versions)
RL Burnside – “Snake Drive”
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – “Catfish Blues”
Robert Finley – “Get It While You Can”
Aaron Frazer – “Love Is” + “Over You”
Sleaford Mods ft. Billy Nomates – “Mork n Mindy”
Leo “Bud” Welch – “Right on Time” + “Praise His Name”
John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat – “Boogie Chillen No.2”
A lot of Iggy & The Stooges
Dead Meadow Levitation Session
Where did the band name come from?
HOM: Max owns a Harmony guitar called the Mars. It kind of sounded like a riff on the Bowie track “Life on Mars” or a take on Elon Musk’s space exploration dreams. Band names are hard, you kind of have to live with what you come up with after a while. We like band names that aren’t obvious.
What does your recording process look like?
HOM: We write demos all day long, and when we get something we usually jam the tracks out guitar and drums and then overdub the bass and vocal at the end. Keep it simple.
What can fans expect next from Harmony on Mars?
HOM: Looking forward to getting some more players in the band, maybe collaborating with some other artists we’re friends with. Scoring some more short films. The Mars rover Perseverance is landing this week we might put an EP out the day it lands. A music video for “Don’t Stand Still”. Basically just keep looking for new stuff.